Choices to Make

Imagine this: you’re on a long overnight flight and the pilot announces that since everyone on the plane is over age 18, the in-flight movie will be hardcore porn. The movie starts and you take exception. It’s not your kind of entertainment. The flight attendant says maybe you shouldn’t be such a prude, it’s only sex, and maybe you have a problem you need to deal with. I have a feeling there’s going to be a scene, yes? A bit of a roshambo.

On a number of occasions lately, I’ve had someone tell me that my distaste for seeing and hearing Donald Trump is a problem with me. I should “toughen up.” I’m too stressed out and uptight about him. And I have a civic duty to consume all the news about his crimes and incompetence that I can feast my eyes on. I try to explain that the only person in charge of what goes in and out of my brain is the same person who decides whether I watch porn. Me. And I choose No.

The Clown Prince Covfefe is a horror show. He’s a con man, a misogynist, a megalomaniac, a national shame, and a waste of carbon. He’s also the national obsession. Not since Watergate have the people been so addicted to such a national shitstorm, or wasted so much of their lives on something so stupid. And on a daily basis, entirely meaningless to the average American.

Being obsessed with the nightly news minutia of the daily clusterfuckery of the so call president is not a sign of good citizenship, it’s a sign of obsession. Obsessed is as obsessed does. So I’m here to tell you that if you want to get on with your life and think about the things that add value to your existence, and the people who brighten your path through this land of grief and exultation, I’m with you brothers and sisters. Check back with us later about this deal. Trump is not your problem.

Trump is a problem for a very small number of people who can solve it; for the rest of us, he’s a situation. A problem, by definition, has a solution. If you can’t solve it, it’s not your problem. For further reference, see The Serenity Prayer. You probably know it.

Most of the time, I don’t give a f–k about Trump. I did for a long time, but I said here on this blog even before the election that he wasn’t worth our undivided attention, and I’ve said it since. So eventually, I carefully considered the fact that there are a limited number of things about which I can realistically give a f–k on a daily basis, and Trump isn’t one of them.

Giving a f–k means you care. You’re willing to give a certain about of your time, energy, money, and spiritual and mental resources to the subject. If you are willing to do this for Trump, then great. It’s your life. Respect to you. But I am deliberately trying to declutter him from between my ears. I’m throwing away something that adds no value to my life – the 24/7 Trump Show – in favor of concentrating on things that do. That’s my free choice. That I elect to feed my mind and soul on better things, things that add value to my brief existence, that’s the sign of a human mind at work. It’s not a sign of weakness.

Sorry but I’m not sorry. It’s my brain and I get to decide what not to give a f–k about, then not give a f–k about those things. I’ve tried being honest and reasonably polite and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try communicating differently. But since I’ve been honest and clear about this, I don’t have to be sorry.

Beyond the appropriate expressions of resistance, including voting, worrying about Trump is optional. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t matter but I do. Now you do too. And it’s important because having a problem that’s obviously beyond your control and not freely chosen is the definition of suffering, in a world where real problems are inevitable and happiness comes from solving them.

We can’t always choose what happens to us. Most of us didn’t choose for Trump to happen to us. But we can always control how we interpret situations and how we respond. I’ve decided not to be obsessed with the daily ritual of inhaling the fumes of our national dumpster fire. I need just enough information on an occasional basis to be ready to resist when resistance becomes actionable and realistic.

So I don’t watch MSNBC every night. I don’t listen when Fuckface Von Clownstick is talking, or any of his minions. I don’t watch videos of his putrid Velveeta visage wobbling around on screens. I read weekly magazines, with words printed in them. Old school? Yeah, works for me.

“Giving too many f–ks is bad for your mental health. …The key to a good life is not giving a f–k about more; it’s giving a f–k about less, giving a f–k about only what is true and immediate and important.”
– Mark Manson

In other words, life is too short for this shit.

alec-baldwin-trump

 

 

Night of Fear and Loathing

In recognition of the anniversary of The Night of Fear and Loathing, November 8, 2016, I have renewed my membership the the American Civil Liberties Union.

Impeach Trump

That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years.

Commander in Cheese

…on the obedience we all give to Trump.

Imagine this: One night you’re watching TV and Trump appears in a breaking news address, live from the Oval Office, with the portrait of Jackson behind him. He’s gripping his diamond encrusted golden iPhone and live-tweeting as he says, “I’m the president now and trust me I’m the best president there ever was, really fantastic, and I command all of you to think about me every day, a lot every day, and it will be some really great thinking because it’s about me.”

Would you do as you’re told? Well, some people would. But the majority of Americans would flip the bird at their TV, say something to the effect of kiss my ass you ignorant and perfidious bastard, and spend the rest of the evening thinking about Trump anyway.

What? Yep.

What if El Cheeto Bandito could make you think about him for hours every day, and every evening before you go to bed, without ever saying that’s what he wants? No demands or commands or pleas, just continuous, unflinching, attention. How much and how often do you think about Trump? You’re thinking about him right now, and you think about him a lot. So do I.

“But wait, no,” you say, “we have to keep watching him, we have to keep an eye on him because he’s fucking up the whole country and pounding democracy flatter than hammered shit and he must be vigilant or he’ll get away with it.”

Prove it. Prove that our constant vigilance is making an actual difference. There are 340-some-odd million Americans. How many have to be learning about the latest Babyhands Atrocities at any given moment?

“But I don’t worry about him because I like him or support or agree,” you insist. “I think about him because I hate him! I haaaaaate him soooo muuuch! And I haaate every treasonous sumbitch who voted for him and I hope they pop like a big bag of Orville Redenbachers on the stoves of hell foreeeeever.” Cool. I’m with you on that. But all that hatred hurts Vile Lord Damput exactly how?

Here’s the ironic part. Our obsession with Trump, our addiction to the continuous effluvium of his stupidities, and our hatred of him and his supporters and everything they represent really does do a lot of damage. To us.

Der Hair Fuhrer is not worthy of a passing thought, let alone our constant contemplation. But we are giving Darth Donald vast tracts of our time, our sense of peace and contentment, our full attention, and ultimately our lives. And we’re giving all that up for free. He is sucking the happiness out of our homes and families, the focus out of our work, and the light out of our days, and we’re letting him do it. The stress is shredding our nervous systems and robbing us of sleep.

Enough. I say enough. It’s time to evict The Landlord from the vacation rentals between our ears for non payment, commission of waste, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Let’s cut back, way back. Let’s learn to pace ourselves because impeachment is going to be a long and muddy road. Maybe check the news every few days to see if the Republic still stands, OK. But otherwise find our way back to the things we love and Beings who love us and get on with our lives. There is no better way to beat the Trumps of the world than to show them they don’t matter, they don’t dominate, and we will not follow them into the darkness.

Life Is Too Short

“The Internet can be a hard place to find kindness, maybe especially right now, but I believe it’s worth fighting for because I believe it makes the world bigger and that it eases the hard but inevitable changes that define life.”
John Green

It so happens that I am tired of the things that I’m against, and that are against me. This being-against has come to circumscribe my days and define my existence, ever since the putative election of the Idiot Toddler King five months ago.

The writer John Green refers to a “strange brew of outrage and worry and exhaustion and not being able to look away …” and says, “I feel some vague but nagging obligation to be informed about the events of the day.” I can relate. It feels like I’ve been sucking information from a firehose and that it’s my social obligation as a citizen to go on doing it, perhaps forever. I can’t look away.

trump-baldwinI don’t want this misery; this feeling of being subjected to hypnosis or mind control. The failing landlord has had rent free use of the space between my ears for far too long. I have given him and his minions power over my thinking. That’s the most precious thing I have and worst thing I can carelessly give away. Enough!

I no longer accept the moral obligation to be constantly informed about the minutia of the highest and most profoundly innervating horrors of insensate Power. It’s not my job as a citizen, or yours. If a few of the tens of millions of us who are chronically outraged remember that we still have finite lives and look away for a moment, Trump will not get away with all of his cunning and evil plans.

I want my field of vision back, and the spectrum of my hearing, and the depth of my understanding too. There are still beautiful books to read, and music to hear. There are more important things to think about than what steaming pile of crap The Clown Prince has stepped in today.

I’m not saying I want to stop being well-informed and caring about what’s going on. But being informed doesn’t mean staying lock-step with the nation every day. It’s easy to go way beyond being informed and become obsessed. The traditional news media and countless content sources on the Internet are in the business of obsession. They make a living, one way or another, by getting our attention and keeping it. They manufacture outrage.

I’ve heard there’s no truth in the news, no news in the truth. But even if what they’re feeding us is True, they don’t want us to be merely well informed and say that’s enough thanks, and glance away. The information machine is an all-you-can-eat buffet, an eternal flame raging in a dumpster. Nobody cares if you sit there, in rapt attention, until your background level of stress pegs off the meter.

The problem with living on a daily diet of outrage against the things that we’re against is not just that it ruins your health and happiness. It doesn’t do any good. It never has. No good change in the world has ever come about just because people – no matter how many – were against something and outraged about it. Every time people have succeeded in creating positive change, it’s been because they found something that were for and felt passionate about. They then stood up and fought for that thing and against whatever was trying to destroy it. There’s no use being against something without being for something, is my point.

Anne Lamott has famously written, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Being outraged against The Other Side always results in overblown, inaccurate stereotypes. If everybody over there is evil and stupid and incapable of rational discourse, there’s no hope at all of ever making progress toward solving common problems. We become part of the problem. Believe it or not, cooperation is never optional, and those stereotypes, at some level, are always wrong.

“Now, if you ask me, what’s going on is that we’re all up to here in it, and probably the most important thing is that we not yell at one another. Otherwise we’d all just be barking away like Pekingese: ‘Ah! Stuck in the shit! And it’s your fault, you did this …’ Writing involves seeing people suffer and, as Robert Stone once put it, finding some meaning therein. But you can’t do that if you’re not respectful. If you look at people and just see sloppy clothes or rich clothes, you’re going to get them wrong.”
– Lamott

I want kindness to prevail between us, I really do, but it’s going to take time.  If you voted Nazi Stupid in the 2016 election, don’t tell me. I still think you’re a raging fool who should not be trusted with scissors or the care of pets or houseplants. Even if you’ve repented and wish there had been an actual Conservative to vote for, just shut up and keep it to yourself for a while. You are the stereotype, the poster child for bad judgment. Sorry. Let’s find something else to talk about. Not NASCAR or Rodeo. …Movies?

Of course, I still despise Donald Trump. He’s batshit crazy and evil, corrupt, and probably a traitor. But our job as citizens is not just to consume and react, consume and react. It’s to thoughtfully receive information, decide what values we are willing to stand for, and then find a way to stand up for them.

It’s time to cut back on the news. So how often is often enough to check in? Every 10 minutes, every hour, day, or week? Well for me it’s going to be a quick daily dose online. Then I have a couple of nice weekly magazines, TIME and The Nation. I’ll still be outraged but less viscerally so, I hope. If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been listening.

God Save The Queen

… from Donald Trump.

I know that some of my readers live in the UK. I cordially invite you to join more than one million of your countrymen and women, in signing a petition to ban the ostensible president of my country from being received in your country for an official state visit.

Here’s a link.

Trump is a vile, vapid, vulgar little tyrant whose putrid character is utterly devoid of any redeeming qualities. His personality has all the taste and discernment of a small lump of molding cheddar.What’s more, he’s simply a mad dictator who, if he’s not stopped soon, will rain sorrow and suffering, hate and discontent, on people here in the US and far abroad.

So feel free to tell him, “none shall pass,” and trust me that no right-minded American will take the slightest offense.

Cheers!

Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.

~ Winston Churchill

Our Better Angels

When I walked into my kitchen this morning, a disembodied computer voice roused itself and said to me:

“Good morning, Kyle. Today is Barack Obama’s last day as President of the United States. He is the 44th president and the first African American elected to that office. Thank you, Mr. President.”

I felt at once sad and grateful, angry, nauseated, and infected by despair. “Yes, thank you and thank you,” I thought, “but my God what have we done?”

This evening I wrote a blog post about my apprehension and my thoughts on citizenship, and posted that on another website. You can read it here, if you’re so inclined.

Here on Metaphor, I’ll just say that by my clock it’s after midnight in Washington DC; it is January 20, 2017. Thank you, Mr. Obama, and your wife and family, for your service and sacrifice offered with surpassing poise and manifest in good faith.

God bless and save America.

 

Resolution of the City of San Francisco

It makes me proud to be a Californian. [Link]

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution, introduced by Board President London Breed, in response to the election of Donald Trump. The resolution reads as follows:

 

WHEREAS, On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That no matter the threats made by President-elect Trump, San Francisco will remain a Sanctuary City. We will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who help make this city great, and who represent over one third of our population. This is the Golden Gate—we build bridges, not walls; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That we will never back down on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted. And just as important, we will ensure our young girls grow up with role models who show them they can be or do anything; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That there will be no conversion therapy, no withdrawal of rights in San Francisco. We began hosting gay weddings twelve years ago, and we are not stopping now. And to all the LGBTQ people all over the country who feel scared, bullied, or alone: You matter. You are seen; you are loved; and San Francisco will never stop fighting for you; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That we still believe in this nation’s founding principle of religious freedom. We do not ban people for their faith. And the only lists we keep are on invitations to come pray together; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That Black Lives Matter in San Francisco, even if they may not in the White House. And guided by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, we will continue reforming our police department and rebuilding trust between police and communities of color so all citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That climate change is not a hoax, or a plot by the Chinese. In this city, surrounded by water on three sides, science matters. And we will continue our work on CleanPower, Zero Waste, and everything else we are doing to protect future generations; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That we have been providing universal health care in this city for nearly a decade, and if the new administration follows through on its callous promise to revoke health insurance from 20 million people, San Franciscans will be protected; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That we are the birthplace of the United Nations, a city made stronger by the thousands of international visitors we welcome every day. We will remain committed to internationalism and to our friends and allies around the world—whether the administration in Washington is or not; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That San Francisco will remain a Transit First city and will continue building Muni and BART systems we can all rely upon, whether this administration follows through on its platform to eliminate federal transit funding or not; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That California is the sixth largest economy in the world. The Bay Area is the innovation capital of the country. We will not be bullied by threats to revoke our federal funding, nor will we sacrifice our values or members of our community for your dollar; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That we condemn all hate crimes and hate speech perpetrated in this election’s wake. That although the United States will soon have a President who has demonstrated a lack of respect for the values we hold in the highest regard in San Francisco, it cannot change who we are, and it will never change our values. We argue, we campaign, we debate vigorously within San Francisco, but on these points we are 100 percent united. We will fight discrimination and recklessness in all its forms. We are one City. And we will move forward together.